Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
- Buoy 146 (Lanai): Seas were 2.7 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 11.8 secs from 201 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 6.2 secs with swell 1.1 ft @ 15.1 secs from 211 degrees. Wind southeast 6-8 kts. Water temperature 70.2 degs. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.0 ft @ 5.7 secs from 260 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.4 ft @ 6.2 secs from 261 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.4 ft @ 15.4 secs from 195 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 6.7 secs with swell 3.2 ft @ 6.5 secs. Wind northwest 8-12 kts. Water temp 58.8 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Thursday (8/25) in North and Central CA local northwest windswell was knee to thigh high and textured from northwest winds. At Santa Cruz surf was flat to maybe mid-thigh high and clean with no real southern hemi swell left. In Southern California up north windswell was producing waves in the knee high range and weak but clean. Down south southern hemi swell was producing set waves in the waist high range and clean. Further down south top spots had set waves in the waist to maybe chest high range on the peak and clean but mushed and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was thigh high on the sets and weak with east texture on it. The East Shore was flat and lightly chopped.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
No swell was in the water in Hawaii or California on Thurs (8/25). A small gale developed southeast of New Zealand on Thurs (8/18) with seas to 30 ft. Weak and small swell is tracking towards mainly CA. Also a tiny gale developed in the far Southeast Pacific on Sun-Mon (8/22) with 32 ft seas aimed northeast. Not much swell is expected from it for CA. The models are suggesting a solid gale developing and tracking under New Zealand Sun (8/28) with up to 40 ft seas, fading, then redeveloping southeast of New Zealand Tues-Wed (8/31) with 35 ft seas aimed northeast. Something to monitor. In the North Pacific no swell producing fetch has occurred with no swell in the water and none is forecast. A tropical system was developing on Thurs (8/25) in the far West Pacific forecast pushing northeast through Mon (8/29) with 40+ ft seas but still isolated to the far West Pacific then turning northwest. Maybe something to result. And another tropical system is to be developing south of Cabo moving towards Hawaii. Otherwise no core swell producing weather systems are forecast in the Dateline-Aleutian corridor.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thursday (8/25) no swell is in-flight and none is expected for the next 72 hours.
The California coastal pressure gradient on Thurs (8/25) very weak nearshore and fading off the Oregon-North CA coast producing only 20 kt north winds. A light flow was down the balance of the North and Central Coast. Windswell was minimal. On Fri (8/26) the gradient is to start fading while continuing to track west, offering little hope for producing windswell with a weak wind pattern forecast through the weekend offering no potential to generate windswell.
For Hawaii on Thursday (8/25) trades were weak from the east-northeast at 10-15 kts mainly aimed south of the Big Islands offering little decent windswell producing fetch. And by Fri (8/26) that fetch is to dissipate with trades 10 kts or less offering no windswell generation potential and holding like that through the weekend.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Typhoon Lionrock was 450 nmiles south of Southwestern Japan on Thurs AM (8/25) at 23.7N 131E (5,000 nmiles out on the 297 degree path) with winds 110 kts and starting to move east-northeast with seas 31 ft. In 24 hours winds to be down to 95 kts and Lionrock is to be accelerating to the east-northeast. By Mon AM this system is to be 200 nmiles east of Central Japan with winds 70 kts and turning to the north with swell producing fetch fading out. Given it's relative strength and heading some small swell could be generated on Thursday, but it has a long ways to travel and the fetch area is small. Assuming swell is to result, arrival time with period 16 secs would be 8.4 days, or Fri PM (9/2). Odds very low of any measurable/rideable swell to result.
Tropical Storm Lester was 360 nmiles south--southwest of Cabo San Lucas Mexico tracking west-northwest at 10 kts with winds 45 kts. A turn to the west is expected with slow and steady strengthening forecast with winds to 80 kts on Sun (8/28) positioned 1800 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Islands of Hawaii. Lester is to continue on this heading into next week eventually moving to within 900 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island on Thurs (9/1) holding with decent strength. Swell remotely possible if one is to believe the models are week out.
Theoretically another tropical system is to develop between Lester and the Big Island on Mon (8/29) tracking west while strengthening moving to within 300 nmiles southeast of the Big Island at strong tropical storm force by Thurs (9/1). Odds low of this outcome at this early date.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (8/25) a weak pressure pattern was in control with light northwest winds over all of California coastal waters except from Cape Mendocino northward, where winds were barely 15 kts. On Friday no winds (10 kts or less) are expected nearshore and no winds greater than 10 kts are forecast over California waters through Mon (8/29) except near Pt Conception where north winds at 15 kts are forecast on Monday. The normal gradient is to return on Tuesday (8/30) with northwest winds 15 kts over all nearshore waters of North and Central CA building to 20 kts near Pt Conception holding Wednesday and not moving north, then fading on Thurs (9/1).
On Thursday AM (8/25) the northern branch of the jet was dominant running west to east on the 33S latitude line at 150 kts in the west then slowly falling southeast building to 190 kts in the Southeast Pacific down at 42S as it merged with the southern branch briefly, then tracked northeast and moved into Southern Chile. The more important southern branch was ridging south at 70S under New Zealand then lifting steadily northeast at 110 kts to 50S over the Central South Pacific at 150W forming a weak trough then slowly falling south to the tip of South America. There was some support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere in the Central South Pacific in the trough 0near 150W. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to weaken quickly on Fri (8/26) with winds falling to 70 kts offering no odds for gale development while tracking east. A ridge is to be building over the entirety of the Central and Southeast Pacific pushing into Antarctica thereafter offering no support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours starting Sun (8/28) a trough is to start building under New Zealand with southwest winds 120 kts pushing northeast and moving slowly east through Tuesday (8/30) to a point southeast of New Zealand while holding strength and getting better defined. Some support for gale development is possible but the trough is to weaken significantly on Wed (8/31). Yet another trough is to build under New Zealand on Thurs (9/1) with 110 kt winds again pushing northeast offering potential to support gale development.
On Thursday (8/25) tiny swell from a gale that developed under New Zealand on Thurs (8/18) was pushing northeast towards Hawaii and California (see New Zealand Gale below). Also possible tiny swell is tracking north from a gale that was on the edge of the California in the Southeast Pacific on Mon (8/22). But overall, nothing of real interest is occurring.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems are forecast.
New Zealand Gale
A gale tracked under New Zealand on Thurs AM (8/18) producing a modest area of 45 kt west winds with a small area of 30 ft seas indicated at 60S 172E aimed east (210 degs NCal and barely unshadowed by Tahiti, 211 degs SCal and shadowed, 193 degs HI). Fetch faded from 40 kt from the southwest in the evening with seas 30 ft at 60S 176W. On Fri AM (8/19) southwest fetch faded from 35 kts with seas fading from 29 ft at 58S 164W. There's some odds of small 16-17 sec period swell resulting for Tahiti, Hawaii and CA.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Fri (8/26) with period 17 secs and size building to only 8-10 inches (1.0-1.5 ft). Swell fading from there on Sat (8/27) with period dropping from 15-16 secs. Swell Direction: 192 degrees
South California: Expect swell arrival on Sat (8/27) building to 1.3 ft @ 19 secs late 92.0-2.5 ft). Swell peaking on Sun (8/28) at 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell continues on Mon (8/29) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). On Tues (8/30) swell fading from 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 208-211 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (8/27) building to 1 ft @ 19 secs late. Swell peaking on Sun (8/28) at 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5 ft). Swell continues on Mon (8/29) at 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). On Tues (8/30) swell fading from 1.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 207-210 degrees
Small Southeast Pacific Gale
A tiny storm developed in the far Southeast Pacific on Sun PM (8/21) producing 45 kt southwest winds over a tiny area with seas building from 30 ft at 51S 128W. On Mon AM (8/22) southwest winds to be fading from 40 kts over a small area with seas 32 ft at 49S 120W. Fetch was fading from 35 kts in the evening and positioned well east of the California swell window with seas fading from 28 ft at 46S 114W targeting only Chile. Some small swell might result for California but most size was targeting Central America down into Chile.
South California: Small swell arriving later on Mon (8/29) build to 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.0 ft). Swell continues on Tues (8/30) building to 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell continue on Wed (8/31) at up to 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell gone on Thurs (9/1). Swell Direction: 185 degrees
North CA: Small swell arriving on Tues (8/30) building to 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0 ft). Swell continue on Wed (8/31) at up to 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell fading on Thurs (9/1) from 1.6 ft @ 13 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 183 degrees
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast for the greater North Pacific.
For California on Monday (8/29) high pressure is to be retrograded and weak in the West Gulf of Alaska offering no potential to form a gradient or north winds of interest along the California coast. The high is to nose east some on Tues-Wed (8/31) into Pt Conception holding into generating 20 kt north winds there, and 15 kt north winds up into North CA, but not strong enough or over a large enough area to result in significant windswell. Then even that fetch is to fade on Thurs (9/1).
For Hawaii on Monday (8/29) trades east of the Islands are to start building at 15 kts but not so much attributable to high pressure up in the Western Gulf, but by the interaction of 2 tropical systems approaching from the east and theoretically moving to within 300 and 900 nmiles of the Big Island respectively. Much room for error is possible on this long term projection though (see Tropical Update above).
Beyond 72 hours a storm is forecast tracking under New Zealand Sun AM (8/28) producing 50-55 kt southwest winds and seas to 38 ft at 56.5S 146E (barely in the NCal swell window at 221 degs, in the SCal swell window at 222 degs, and shadowed by NZ relative to HI). In the evening fetch is to be fading from 45 kts aimed more northeast with seas 40 ft at 53S 163E (221 degs NCal, 222 degs SCal, still shadowed by New relative to HI). On Mon AM (8/29) southwest winds to be fading from 35-40 kts falling southeast with seas 33 ft over a broad area at 54S 169.5E (unshadowed all). The gale is to be in rapid decline in the evening but new fetch is to be building behind it under New Zealand at 45 kts. On Tues AM (8/30) a respectable fetch of 40-45 kt southwest winds are to be pushing under New Zealand with 35 ft seas at 54S 175E. A broad fetch of 35-40 kt southwest winds are to be in.cgiay in the evening with seas 34 ft over a large area aimed northeast at 52S 167W (207 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti, 208 degs SCal and almost unshadowed by Tahiti, 186 degs HI). More seas and fetch to follow.
And another gale is to follow behind that. Something to monitor.
More details to follow...
La Nina Remains Weak
The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).
Overview: The 2014-2016 El Nino is all but gone except for remnants in the upper atmosphere. La Nina is developing but weaker than expected.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Wednesday (8/24) east winds were over the entire equatorial Pacific but weak over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA is on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south). Anomalies were neutral over the equatorial East Pacific and over the the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): Weak east anomalies were over the entire KWGA per this model suggestive of the Inactive Phase of the MJO and forecast to be slowly retreating westward through 9/1 and almost gone at that time with very weak west anomalies starting to build.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of 8/24 a moderate Active Phase of the MJO was over the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects it fading in the West Pacific and dissipated 8 days out and turning slightly Inactive into week #2. The dynamic model depicts the same thing initially but with the Active Phase fading much slower, and still present 2 weeks out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (8/25) The ECMF model indicates the Active Phase of the MJO was modest and positioned over the dateline. The forecast projects it holding position and loosing strength over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (8/25) This model depicts a neutral pattern over the dateline today and tracking slowly east finally moving over Central America by 9/17. At the same time a weak Inactive Phase is to be building in the far West Pacific starting 9/7 tracking east into Central America on 10/4. A Neutral pattern to follow at that time in the West.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): This model depicts a weak Active MJO pattern currently past peak over the KWGA with weak west anomalies in.cgiay from the dateline westward and retreating through 9/10. A very weak Inactive Phase is to follow 9/12-9/27 but with weak west anomalies still holding in the KWGA. Then another Active MJO signal is to follow 9/28 -10/5 with a more defined west anomaly wind pattern in the KWGA. Overall the MJO signal is very weak and expected to remain that way into early Winter, with east anomalies generally holding in the East Pacific from 120W to 170W and west anomalies reaching east to the dateline. There no suggestion of a major pulse of east or west anomalies in the KWGA. The low pass filter suggests the remnants of El Nino in the Pacific are dissipating south of California today. At the same time low pass anomalies are over the Indian Ocean and forecast to build weakly into Oct, then start fading some.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/25) No Change - Actual temperatures are steady in the West Pacific at 30+ degs C (reaching east to 167E) and the 28 deg isotherm line reaching east to only 170W. Cooling has stabilized in the east. Warm anomalies at +1 degs rule from the West Pacific to 165W with weak negative anomalies east of there towards Ecuador. Cool subsurface waters are at depth erupting near 150W. At depth -3 degs anomalies reach east down 100 meters at 165W (retreating west). The Kelvin Wave pipeline is chocked with cold water rushing east through it. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 8/21 depicts a pocket of +1-2 deg anomalies building in the West Pacific to 170W. Cool water 2-3 degs below normal was under the the equator in pockets, undercutting any residual warm water above it and forming a bubble near 150W and upwelling from 120-150W but also reaching east to Ecuador. La Nina is in control of the ocean at depth, but not strongly so.
Surface Water Temps: The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). Cold water in that area has a dampening effect. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (8/24) No Change - The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicates a very weak cool flow is present along the coast of Peru then fading off Ecuador to nothing. Cooler waters then redeveloped flowing west from the Galapagos over a thin stream then building in coverage/width near 100W and tracking solidly out to at least 160W with with peak temps -1.0 degs. Cool waters extend north and south from the equator about 8 degrees in the west but have contracted some to 3 degs north and south of the equator recently near and just west of the Galapagos to 115W. La Nina is in control of surface waters, but weak, with remnant El Nino warm water holding in a few small pockets 3 degs north and south of the equator in the east and everywhere north and south of 8N/S. That said, almost no warm water remains anywhere in the Nino regions directly on the equator (5 degs N and S).
Hi-res 7 day Trend (8/23): A neutral trend is over waters of Chile and Peru. But a thin cool stream is now extending from Ecuador over the Galapagos. And a cooling trend continues from the Galapagos and points westward with a intermixed pockets of warming and cooling water from 120W to 160W. A neutral trend is off Africa.
Hi-res Overview: (8/23) A clear La Nina cool pool is present in the Central equatorial Pacific 110W to 170W. The thin stream is building a bit tracking west from the Galapagos but still nonexistent along Ecuador and Peru suggestive of westward di.cgiacement. A generalized pattern of +1-2 deg above normal temps remains 4-8 degs north and south of the equator and west of 180W. Cooler water is also over the north dateline region in the North Pacific with warm water off the Pacific Northwest streaming over Hawaii looking very much like the classic Active PDO pattern.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (8/25) Today's temps were trending cooler at -0.049 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (8/23) temps were trending downward at -0.848 degs. Temps bottomed out recently at -1.0 degs near 7/21-7/26.
Comparing Stongest El Ninos in the last 50 year - ERSSTv4 'centered' data
SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (8/25) No Change - Temps are to rise to -0.2 degs in Oct, then fall to -0.5 degs in Dec before starting to rise in Jan 2017 and neutral by March and +0.4 degs by April. This is barely in La Nina territory.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume depicts temps have nearly reached their peak minimum, down at -0.5 to -0.6 by Nov and holding there to Feb, then rising. This is up again from last months peak low temp of -0.7 degs and barely in La Nina territory. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Deco.cgiing (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (8/25): The daily index was down some at +8.07. The 30 day average was down some at +3.02. It transitioned from negative to positive (first time in 2 years) on 5/27. The 90 day average was up some at +3.20, transitioning from negative to positive the first time in years on 7/20. El Nino is gone in all dimensions of the SOI Index now.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive is good, negative bad): (8/25) Today's value was rising some at -0.84. It peaked on 3/12 at +1.57 then fell until 4/14, when it started rising again peaking 4/23 at +1.12. But it has been falling steadily ever since dropping as low as -1.5 in early Aug.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO continues positive, though much weaker in July than June (as expected with La NIna setting in).
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-July) are: +0.79, +1.23, +1.55, +1.60, +1.43, +0.75 and +0.18.
The Washington EDU index (Jan-July) are: +1.54, +1.75, +2.40, +2.62, +2.35, +2.03 and +1.25.
The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been positive since then. Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table